its stamp, is nowhere more profound or more attractive than when he touches such problems of life and death, such mysterious links of union between the seen and the unseen, as are involved in the history of Alcestis. If a poet of that day mis-handled the theme, it was not for want of a model. Even now with the help of Aeschylus it would not, I conceive, be impossible for Mr Swinburne to compose in English, or for Professor Jebb to compose in Greek, a drama in which the spirit of the legend should be fairly preserved and reflected. What is not easy to conceive is that now or then any man should suppose himself to have tolerably executed the design by a piece so cast and constructed as the Alcestis of Euripides. A brief sketch will suffice to remind the reader what the construction is, and to account for the general dissatisfaction. In order to clear the framework of the piece, we will disregard for the moment the prologue or introduction, which has its own personages and separate action; and in the play proper we will attend only to the strictly dramatic portion, the scenes in dialogue. Of these the topics and proportions are as follows:
Sc. i. It being the day on which Alcestis is to die, some friends of Admetus come to make enquiries of her condition. A servant describes to them her preparations for death; she is now sinking, and desires to be brought into the open air, which is accordingly done (vv. 77—242: number of verses, 166).
Sc. ii. Alcestis bids farewell to her husband and children, and receives from her husband assurances of fidelity to her memory. She dies. The corpse is carried into the house, and Admetus retires to complete the preparations for burying it (vv. 243—434: 192).
Sc. iii. While he is within, his friend Heracles, travelling through Pherae, arrives at the house in the expectation of rest and refreshment. Admetus, who appears now in mourning, contrives by a false account to conceal from him the identity of the person whose funeral is about to be performed. He is thus persuaded to enter, and some of the servants are ordered to entertain him (vv. 475—567: 93).
Sc. iv. The funeral is about to proceed, when Pheres, the father of Admetus, presents himself as if to take part in it. Admetus repels him, with a fierce invective against both him